Whether you’re new to watercolor painting or are a seasoned artist, you want to get the best watercolor set that you can afford. This holds true whether you are painting on canvas, in a sketchbook or decorating your planner or journal.
Choosing the best watercolors is subjective, and there are countless options. That’s why we looked at dozens of watercolor sets to determine which ones are the most likely to delight painters of all abilities.
Learn more about each of these watercolor sets, then give at least one of them a try. With rich paints and useful palettes, these kits are bound to set your creative spirit free.
Our List of 10 Best Watercolor Sets for Beginners & Professional Artists:
The buttery consistency of these paints makes them easy to blend, which is why we’ve named this the best beginner watercolor set. A drop or two of water lightens a paint to the desired hue. Moreover, this set features paints that are vibrantly tinted thanks to the quality of the raw ingredients used. For the new art student, this is a plus.
The 24 colors are permanent and lightfast. With a proprietary binder, they are capable of providing more pigment in every stroke of the brush. These features mean that the colors in your project won’t fade away over time, but remain as bright and vibrant as they are today.
This also is one of the best watercolor sets for students because it’s such an economical price. At less than $20, even those on a tight budget can afford it. People who have used the set have almost universal praise for it, though some note that the smell from the paints can be strong.
Beginners and experienced painters love this set for its affordability and the vibrancy of its pigments.
With 30 diverse, premium-grade colors, this is our pick for the best professional watercolor set. Each paint contains pure pigment and gum Arabic of the highest quality. The manufacturer boasts that a team of artists assembled the set to ensure that painters would receive a collection of vibrant, strongly pigmented colors that are crisp and clear.
We’ve also chosen to name this our best portable watercolor set because of the convenient case that it comes in. You can take your work almost anywhere thanks to this secure packaging.
These paints are ideal in terms of lightfastness. Additionally, their adhesiveness is superior. Nonetheless, you’ll pay less than $30 for the set, which means you’re paying less than one dollar per tube.
Fans of the set praise its vibrancy and range, but some of them note that the colors aren’t as pure as they could be.
If you’ve taken your painting up to the next level, then give these reliable paints a try. The hues are lovely, and you’ll appreciate the portable case.
This half-pan set of 60 colors is great for painters of all descriptions. In fact, it is one of the best watercolor pan sets for beginners and professionals thanks to the diversity of colors that it includes.
What’s more, we’ve also selected this item from Sakura as the best watercolor starter set because it also features two nine ml water brushes, two palettes, and two sponges. Basically, this is a convenient, all-in-one choice for the painter on the go.
The sleek, compact design of the set is another plus. Despite its small size, this set contains 60 colors, making it suitable for use with a wide variety of projects. People who have used the set say that the pigments are excellent and that the paint lasts for a long time.
Critics say that the included brushes aren’t really up to par, so plan to use your own for best results.
The ideal set of paints for an aspiring artist, you’ll likely be most pleased with this diverse collection when you’re using your own high-quality brush.
For painters who prefer to take their art everywhere, this is the best pocket watercolor set. Don’t be fooled by its tiny size. This set is packed with high-quality watercolor paints.
Brought to you by the reputable company of Winsor & Newton, this portable watercolor set uses less expensive alternatives to the more costly pigments. This means that even the most budget-conscious artist can afford this set.
Nonetheless, like all Cotman Water Colours, the paints have excellent transparency, superior tinting strength and are easy to work with.
Inside the set, you’ll find a convenient pocket brush and a dozen half pans of paint. These are easy to blend. People who like the set notice that the paints are durable and easy to revive with water. They also note that the colors are easy to mix. Critics don’t think that the palette is designed well.
If you’re excited to be able to work with your projects absolutely anywhere, then you can’t go wrong with this quality, portable set.
From Royal Brush, this is the best watercolor paint set for beginners because it comes in a beautiful wood box. This makes it the perfect gift for birthdays, holidays, graduations and more. The recipient will want to fill it with new tubes of paint over and over again.
This truly is an all-in-one set that even includes a how-to manual for true novices. All supplies necessary are included in the set. With 10 tubes of paint, a watercolor pad, five brushes, a plastic palette knife, drawing pencil with eraser and sharpener (But if you need other sharpeners, see our review.)and the booklet, this set will get anyone off on the right foot.
If you just want to dabble with painting or are starting with watercolors, fans say that this is the ideal place to begin. The booklet is really helpful, and it’s nice to have all of the basic accessories. However, you’ll need to upgrade soon if you seriously pursue painting.
If you’re starting out, this could be the perfect way to give watercolors a try.
Priced at just under $60, this set is a spectacular deal and our best watercolor travel set. Each painting in this set of 36 is made from a single pigment of the best quality. Brought to you by the well-known St. Petersburg company, these are artists’-quality paints containing gum Arabic and honey.
St. Petersburg warrants all of these colors to be lightfast and mixed with ease.
These are full pans of paints, and as many users say, a little goes a long way. Even a prolific artist will be making use of these colors for some time to come. Fans even say that this set stacks up against some of the really high-end watercolor paint out there.
However, some people note that the palette isn’t quite good enough. Additionally, some people had trouble with the paint pans sticking to the lid. A bit of adhesive attaching the pan to the bottom of the package is a good idea.
If you want to upgrade to some superior watercolors, this is an affordable and easy way to do it.
This is one of the best watercolor sets because it has everything you need. From 24 watercolors to a palette, three paintbrushes, a pad, and a durable kit, this set has everything for the studio or for painters working on location.
Each of these sets is backed by a 30-day, money-back guarantee from the manufacturer. Moreover, there is a one-year warranty for a free replacement. The manufacturer describes the set as being odorless, non-toxic and safe. Each painting features strong, vibrant pigments and applies easily.
Even experienced painters are impressed that they can get such high-quality paints for approximately $20. They even say that the brushes are of totally decent quality. One drawback noted by some users is that the included paper is not of particularly good quality.
Consider investing in a better pad if you pursue painting further.
For a child or an adult that’s dabbling in watercolors, this is an excellent set. You can get started immediately with this all-in-one package.
This good watercolor set comes with 36 watercolor cakes and a dozen brushes in varying sizes. Each non-toxic cake is safe to use. Priced at less than $15, this set is a bargain for beginners and seasoned artists.
People who have tried this set have high praise for the brushes. At this price, this is a remarkable deal for a dozen decent paintbrushes. While they may not satisfy the more discerning professional artist, they are more than acceptable to the hobbyist or the budding painter.
Then, the paints have fairly rich pigmentation, so they also do not disappoint. However, some artists had problems with smudging when using these paints inside a sketchbook or pad. Some people also say that the dried paint on projects has a chalky finish.
This set is worthwhile for the 12 brushes alone. They are surprisingly good quality in a set of this price. The paints are totally acceptable too with bright pigments and rich colors.
Royal & Langnickel is known for producing some of the best watercolors. This watercolor set for artists is no exception. At a price point of just under $30, this set of one dozen watercolor paint tubes is an exceptional value.
However, it also includes 11 Aqualon brushes, a wooden stylus, a palette knife, an Aqua-Flo brush, a plastic palette, a graphite pencil, and an apron. With an eraser, wooden storage box, and watercolor painting booklet, this is the most complete set on this list.
Beginning and experienced artists are certain to be delighted with the paints. Also of note is the compact wooden box that makes it the kit portable. You can take your art supplies everywhere.
Critics sometimes find the quality of the brushes lacking. However, it’s easy enough to substitute your own, better-quality brushes for those that are included in the set.
This is a wonderful set for beginner and seasoned painters alike. The convenient case and numerous accessories are thoughtful additions.
A simple, straightforward set of a dozen high-quality paints, this selection is the best watercolor set for beginners. Featuring the “Classic” colors of white, grey, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, blue, icy blue, green, cocoa and black, this compact set has every hue for beginning your journey with watercolor.
Also suitable for a variety of crafts, these paints are non-toxic. The palette size is small enough to take everywhere with you. While each pan of color is small, only a brief stroke of the brush picks up plenty of pigment. The upshot is that these paints last a long time.
While this set is the “Classics” version, Prima Marketing makes other color collections. Pick up one or two more to give your projects, even more, depth and color. Critics say that the paints are a bit gritty if you’re looking for professional-grade quality.
If you’re looking for a straightforward collection of pan paints in all the “Classic” colors, then this is the set for you.
Tips for Choosing the Best Watercolor Set
Before choosing a watercolor set, it’s helpful to understand that quality watercolor paint consists of two primary ingredients. These are a finely ground pigment, which makes the paint color, and gum Arabic, which binds the formula together.
Some paint manufacturers also may use a moisturizer to prevent the gum Arabic from turning brittle or a wetting agent to assist with absorption and flow.
The gum Arabic is what makes it possible to thin the watercolor paint with a bit of water. This means that the artist can achieve a translucent or transparent wash.
Most watercolors are available in either students’ quality or artists’ quality. Watercolors that are designed for artists have more pigments with higher permanence ratings. Students’ watercolors are more likely to be augmented by fillers and extenders with cheaper pigments.
The artists’ watercolors will have better lightfastness and permanence. Of course, they also tend to be quite a bit more expensive. Which alternative is right for you? It really depends upon your goals.
If you just want to dabble and have some fun, there are students’ watercolors that are of excellent quality and will likely meet your needs.
However, if you are a professional or if you want a particular project to really shine, then it may be advisable to go with some artists’ watercolors. Keep in mind that these better-quality paints may behave differently than some of the more economical choices, so you may have to practice to achieve the effect you want.
Making The Decision
Choosing the best watercolor set is up to you. Your choice is determined by things like your skill level, the media on which you’ll be painting and the overall effect that you want to achieve. As your skills grow, you may need better-quality paints.
Any of the sets listed here would be an excellent start. Many of them are affordable yet of extraordinary quality. If you’re a beginner and don’t have any watercolor painting supplies, consider purchasing one of the all-in-one kits that have an instruction booklet.
While you may want to supplement your learning with books and classes, these sets will help you to hit the ground running.
Explore a bit more about each of these sets to make a sensible choice that will have you expressing yourself on paper or canvas in no time.